Healthcare career opportunities are opening up every day. Healthcare is projected to grow faster than most other economic sectors in the next ten years, so getting into healthcare is a great option. This increasing demand for healthcare professionals has led to the rise of specializations, especially in nursing. There are over 100 specialties that nurses can consider. All of these specialties come with different roles, responsibilities, and career prospects. We have sifted through many of the nursing specialisms and compiled a list of those that are relevant in 2021 and beyond.
Clinical Nurse Specialists
These are advanced nurses who work with other nurses and healthcare professionals to provide care directly to patients. Their job also includes finding ways to improve the level of care offered to patients. Many clinical nurse specialists also get into administrative positions where they manage other nurses while practicing as nurses themselves.
To become a clinical nurse specialist (CNS), you need to have completed your Masters of Science in Nursing or a similar degree. You also need CNS certification and optional subspecialty certification from the American Nurses’ Credentialing Center.
Critical Care Nursing
Critical care nurses are very similar to registered nurses and they are educated to the same level. However, critical care nurses are specifically trained in dealing with emergencies. In addition to all their other duties, these nurses can be tasked with monitoring critical life support systems or tending to the seriously injured. They have also become invaluable in the current pandemic and will remain so for the foreseeable future.
To become a critical care nurse, you need a bachelor’s degree and you must be a registered nurse. You also need various critical care certifications such as the Certification in Advanced Cardiac Life Support.
Infection Control and Prevention Nursing
Infection control and prevention nurses’ roles include surveilling, identifying, and managing diseases, infections, and viruses. These types of nurses start as registered nurses and have played a critical role during the COVID-19 pandemic. Considering that scientists say we will continue seeing more novel infections and viruses, these nurses will remain relevant for a very long time.
To get into this specialty, you need a Certification in Infection Prevention and Control which is awarded by the Certification Board of Infection Control and Epidemiology. You also need to have a nursing degree, two years of registered nursing experience, and at least two years in the infectious disease field.
Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing
Although we do not know the long-term effects that the COVID-19 pandemic will have on our overall mental health, there have been studies that show that a lot of people will need to see a mental health specialist after the pandemic is over. Mental health nurses specialize in the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of mental disorders.
Some of their areas of focus include depression, dementia, phobias, and mood disorders. Many of them are involved in the treatment and care of those struggling with substance abuse and other addictions. Counseling, crisis intervention, evaluation, and patient assistance also fall within their purview.
To become a mental health nurse, you need a Master’s degree in nursing and must be a registered nurse.
Nurse practitioners are advanced nurses who can serve in several positions and roles. Nurse practitioners primarily serve as primary care providers in their roles as family nurse practitioners. Because most nurse practitioners are specialists in a specific area such as oncology, neonatal care, they can also perform tasks similar to those performed by doctors with the same specializations.
To become a nurse practitioner, you must have a bachelor’s degree in nursing and must be a registered nurse. After gaining some clinical experience, you can apply for a master’s degree. Some universities have a doctor of nursing degrees that include masters-level courses and these allow you to bypass the master’s degree and get your doctorate faster.
One such degree is the Doctor of Nursing Practice – Family Nurse Practitioner program from Marymount University. This degree prepares you to treat and care for patients throughout their lives. If you want to know what this specific program entails or have any questions about this program, you can visit the following link: https://online.marymount.edu/programs/online-dnp-fnp-program.
Nurse-midwives are advanced practice nurses who are involved in every stage of pregnancy and childbirth. This includes pregnancy, childbirth, prenatal care, and postpartum recovery. Although nurse-midwives mainly focus on providing pregnancy care, they can also be tasked with providing general services such as preventive and gynecological health services.
Nurse-midwives do not strictly require a bachelor’s degree because there are master’s programs that enroll registered nurses without a bachelor’s degree. Some direct-entry master’s programs also enroll those with degrees from other science-based fields. The bottom line is that all nurse midwives are required to have a master’s degree in nursing.
After the completion of this degree, they must earn their Certified Nurse Midwife certification from the American Midwifery Certification Board.
Neonatal nurses work in the neonatal intensive care units to care for infants. These infants may be at risk of infection, they may have been injured during birth, or they may need any other specialized care. Although neonatal nurses care for infants until they get better enough to leave the hospital, some of them might care for the infants until a pediatric nurse or doctor can take over.
Usually, an associate’s degree and being registered are enough to become a neonatal nurse. However, more hospitals and healthcare facilities require that they have a bachelor’s degree as a minimum. Additionally, neonatal nurses must have the Neonatal Resuscitation Program certification among other certifications that the institutions they work for may require.
These nurses care for children from birth until they reach adolescence. Pediatric nurses can have a lot of responsibilities and perform a lot of tasks depending on the ages they focus on. These can include managing illnesses, performing tests, conducting physical exams, and formulating treatment plans. Some pediatric nurses might work with their patients’ families to come up with the best treatment plans.
Although an associate’s degree is enough, a bachelor’s degree can make you more competitive and therefore make it easier to find a job as well as attract a higher salary. Pediatric nurses with a master’s degree are also highly-sought after. Pediatric nurses are required to have a pediatric nursing certification. Registered nurses with over 2000 hours of experience in a pediatric unit also qualify for the exam that earns them this certification.
As the population ages, there will be an increase in the demand for geriatric nurses. Geriatric nurses specialize in the treatment and care of older patients. Their roles can range from treating illnesses, ailments, and conditions to enhancing the quality of life of older patients. Some geriatric nurses can also be involved in the treatment of long-term care of cancer, Alzheimer’s, and dementia patients.
You need a nursing degree to get into this specialty as well as a Certification in Geriatric Nursing. Some universities also offer nursing degrees that are specifically tailored for careers in geriatric nursing.
Nurse researchers are highly-qualified nurses who are involved in conducting scientific studies and data analysis and reporting on illnesses and conditions. Nurse researchers can work in a variety of settings including in hospitals and research facilities. Although they do not interact with patients directly, they are largely involved in the formulation of treatment guidelines that do help save lives.
Most nurse researchers hold bachelor’s and master’s degrees and are registered nurses. Some research facilities require a doctorate. Although nurse researcher positions do not require any certifications, nurses can boost their chances of getting into these positions by earning research specialization certifications from the Association of Clinical Research Professionals.
Public Health Nursing
Public health nurses work directly with communities and specific populations. Most of their work revolves around educating people on safety and health as well as helping people gain access to proper healthcare services.
Because they focus on whole communities, their work is mostly in prevention. They take note of any health and safety concerns of their communities, prepare safety plans and ensure they are followed, and advocate for their communities.
Nurses who want to work in the community setting need to pass the NCLEX-RN exam to become registered nurses and gain the experience they need to become public health nurses. Public health nurses also need the Certified Public Health certification, a bachelor’s degree, and five years of experience in community health.
Nurse educators educate and teach new nurses and nursing students. They may teach general nursing or focus on a specific area. With the surge in the demand for nurses, we need more nursing educators and this is why most healthcare facilities and universities have these programs.
To become one, you need to have a Master’s degree, be a registered nurse, and have passed the Certified Nurse Educator exam.
If you are considering becoming a nurse, there are lots of specialties that you can get into. Although many of these specialties require a bachelor’s degree, some of them require an associate’s degree which is easier to attain.